Hi, My name is Jacqui Reese and I am one of the Operational Managers based in the Cardiff office. I am originally from Belfast. I have 2 adult children and throughout lockdown we are fortunate to have all been together. I am the only non-welsh speaker in the household so there is definitely a healthy rugby rivalry in our house (oh how I miss this) when both the Welsh and the Irish team are playing.
I have worked for Calon Cymru since 2003 so just over 17 years initially as a supervising social worker. Before taking up a management position I had supervised a core group of carers for almost 14 years and have built up strong relationships with the children placed, the carers themselves and their families it was a pretty tough decision to make but I continue to support these and a wider range of carers in my new role. Some of those carers are no longer with us but their passion determination and resilience for fostering have been maintained within their fostering families and strong connections remain.
Those of you who know me would be aware that I have not been in work for the last 10 months as my dad had a terminal illness and I returned to Belfast to fulfill his wish to remain at home for the time he had left. Despite the privileged position, this put me in becoming my dad’s main carer made me reflect on many things and in particular gave me a greater insight into the daily challenges, frustrations, and anxieties that can be faced by all carers but particularly those who live on their own. I had my Irish family supporting me but I lived alongside my dad in our family home and due to a high level of care required Isolation was one of the major challenges I struggled with. So, believe me when I say that I take my hat off to all our carers during these unprecedented times. I know that the staff and carers have found new ways of remaining connected and it has been great to hear that everyone has accepted the changes we have all been faced with and have just got on with the job of caring. So huge pride and respect are sent to you all.
Lockdown for me has seen me return to my family in Wales and the kitchen and my garden have definitely been my therapy. I was excited to return but lockdown meant that my desire to see colleagues, friends, and extended family continues to be put on hold. That is definitely something to look forward to! I have however been amazed at how our local community has come together to support others and develop schemes to ensure local needs are met and no one feels alone with regular reports of many acts of kindness. It all reminds me of old fashioned values albeit in a technological world and I hope that when we are all able to move forward that the strengthened community spirit will remain. I definitely know all my neighbours now and our greetings will continue to be more than just a nod of the head.
The team know that I love to bake and of course cakes have been on the menu
But my new interest is making bread and all the kneading has definitely proved therapeutic!
We have also been able to focus on our garden and the hard work is paying off both in terms of produce and visitors to the garden.
I look forward to the weekly flyer from the support team to try out new recipes and ideas. The Beehouse is next on the agenda for the garden.
My dogs however have not been so welcoming to our new visitors although the fox quite happily sat and stared at them with no fear at all.
As I often say to my family the important thing is for everyone to stay safe and well and not take any risks and for all of us to be here when this is all over. My wish is the same for all of you and I look forward to meeting up with carers both old and new and once again commend you for your ongoing commitment and resilience both in terms of your fostering roles and in managing all the challenges of this ongoing pandemic